For the last 24 summers, Meltdown festival has allowed the Southbank Centre to hand over its programming calendar to a class of people hardly famed for their organisational skills – musicians. Luckily the impressive list of Meltdown curators (including David Bowie, John Peel and Yoko Ono) have always pulled through, making the festival an annual cultural highlight of the city. M.I.A. is curator of this year’s Meltdown (June 9-18).
The fearless singer and artist had promised to ‘redefine the concept of a melting pot’ with the programming of this year’s festival. So, unlike previous years where household names like Radiohead, Nina Simone and Grace Jones took the focus, the line-up for 2017 is temptingly underground. And young. And global. From the scorch of Parisian afro-trap star MHD to the whiplash of pioneering Californian queer rapper Mykki Blanco, Meltdown 2017 looks set to be a winner.
Who’s playing at Meltdown festival 2017?
Winners of the Mercury Prize in 2014, Edinburgh hip hop three-piece Young Fathers – Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and Graham ‘G’ Hastings – have continued to create a mutant blend of lush and aching post-punk, afrobeat and kitchen sink rap.
The Belgian dance music mavericks will perform new album From Dewee with a seven-piece band that includes not one, not two, but three drummers.
Signed to M.I.A.’s label, Afrikan Boy often explores his Nigerian heritage and childhood in Woolwich with frank humour. The only shock is that this 28-year-old’s breakout track ‘One Day I Went to Lidl’ is now ten years old.
It was only a year ago that French rapper Mohammed Sylla started uploading self-made videos on YouTube, often revolving around dance moves to gleeful tracks in which he raps in French and West African languages. He has since racked up hundreds of millions of views.
Fresh from collaborating with Drake, the Peckham grime star continues his renaissance. Rumours are he will bring out a slew of special guests.
This twenty-year-old Swedish rapper has already experienced the full gamut of fame – from becoming a viral sensation at 16 to a heavy personal drug addiction. He has returned with more hazy rhymes over undeniably catchy computer game beats.
The fearless, politically-minded rapper and songwriter is already proving 2017 is her year with sold out shows across London.
This date will mark the reggae singer’s first live show in the UK; his ethereal reggae tracks led the roots revival in the mid-noughties and his velour-soft voice has the ability to melt the Royal Festival Hall.
M.I.A. first approached Jamaican dancehall singer Daps to collaborate on her recent album ‘AIM’ after hearing his track ‘Shabba Madda Pot’, a jump-up celebration of Shabba Ranks’s mum’s cooking.
Toronto twosome Crystal Castles offer cool-kid lo-fi synth-pop, ranging from dreamy to ferocious. Edith Frances’ silky vocals and sexy style go a long way to make a case for the group’s electro-boom staying power.
M.I.A. approached the prodigous French electronic artist on Twitter last year, asking to collaborate. He will perform to fans and passing tourists on the Riverside Terrace.
Awful Records Takeover
Details are slim on exactly who will be DJing at this after-hours party in the Clore Ballroom but the hugely influential Atlanta label Awful Records are at the helm and label founder Father will perform.
Brooklyn rapper Young M.A burst onto the US hip hop scene with her balls-out debut ‘OOOUUU’ last year. Much attention has been drawn to her being openly gay but her tough, bragging, raspy delivery is what’s winning fans internationally.
Genesis, a half-Swedish, half-Tamil rapper, is a natural protégée of M.I.A. Signed to brilliant Atlanta label Awful Records, she brings a punk, feminist and overtly sexual pulse to electronic hip hop.
Outrageous, confrontational and vulnerable, Blanco is simply a huge, throbbing ball of talent. His popularity has been bubbling for some time and anyone unsure should check out 2016 track ‘Loner’.
Samson is a queer icon who found fame as one third of groundbreaking riot grrl band Le Tigre. JD will be bringing the party vibes as DJ to the Clore Ballroom.
M.I.A. will close the festival by bringing special guests on stage for one of her trademark explosive performances, that’s bound to sprint through her many hits including ‘Paper Planes’, ‘Bad Girls’ and ‘Borders’.
Find more London music festivals
In case you didn’t know, Scandinavia is cool right now. The food, the fashion, the facial hair – plus the Vikings have invaded the British Museum. All we need next is a healthy economy, a reliable public transport system and a sense of social justice, and London will be indistinguishable from Oslo. Meanwhile in Hackney, there’s yet another Northern European-inspired incursion. Or apparently so: the website claims this bar-restaurant-club draws on ‘a Nordic aesthetic’, although it’s not immediately obvious within. Oslo occupies the previously deserted old Hackney rail station and takes on a bit of a railway theme with its luggage-rack lighting, plus there are industrial stylings that give the whole place a Janet Jackson ‘Rhythm Nation’ video feel. The restaurant part is rather fancy, its food incorporating a few of the forages, pickles, jellies and marinations of New Nordic cooking. The kitchen is regularly given over to guest chefs, and you have to book – it’s always heaving. Eat in the bar and the food is more straightforward. Where once the standard snack in pubs was a toastie, sausage roll or pork pie, now it’s the slider or fried chicken. These are served alongside frankly obscene portions of chips, slathered with the likes of cured bacon fat and bacon salt, or braised oxtail, gravy and cheese. There’s a commendable range of craft beers from the vicinity, including a couple from Five Points Brewing just five minutes up the road at the Downs.Head upstairs and you’ll find a
Venue says: “Join us every Thursday night until late for Soul Soul Soul – a night of vinyl appreciation with DJs playing soul, funk, disco and more.”